When did you become a patent agent/attorney?
I became a patent attorney back in 1990.
Why did you think this would be a good career transition for you?
I knew that patent attorneys generally used a combination of their scientific and legal knowledge which was intriguing.
What is one thing you like about working as a patent agent/attorney?
The opportunity to work with creative people on a daily basis. In the field of patent law we work on scientific subject matter which sets up nicely for a guy who studied chemistry and worked in chemistry labs.
On the trademark front, I get to work with entrepreneurs who are investing in product or service branding. In the field of copyrights we work with different types of “artists” – musicians, photographers, painters, sculptures, software developers, etc.
What is one thing you dislike about the work?
There isn’t much I don’t like. If I had to name one it would probably be dealing with the long lag time between filing a patent and receiving the initial response from the patent office.
Do you feel like there are advancement opportunities?
The field of intellectual property law, particularly patent law, is one of the growth fields in the law. Work in this area is largely a function of technological expansion, and technology over the last few decades has grown exponentially. Positions for patent attorneys are available in house with corporations, in private practice with law firms or with the US Patent Office for example.
Do you have any tips for people who are looking for their first job in the field?
In order to become a patent attorney you must have enough of a scientific background to qualify to take the Patent Bar Exam.
Most people entering this field have at least a Bachelor of Science degree, with many now pursuing more advanced technical degrees before heading off to law school. You don’t need a technical background for the fields of trademark and copyright law, but it certainly doesn’t hurt if you do.
When I look to hire new or lateral attorneys, I love to see a combination of technical work experience along with their technical degree. By and large these people have a basis to relate to inventors who have spent their careers in the field of engineering or the sciences.